Ready? Go! Tweak.
Let's set the scene. You're in a packed stadium. It's the
Olympics and you're watching the 100-metre sprint. You're up in
the nosebleed section and you see what resembles little "ants"
stretching on the field as they prepare for their 10-second mad
dash to the finish line. As the race is about to begin, the
official hollers: "Ready? Set. Go!" And off they go, as fast as
the wind, with the hopes of finishing first among a handful of
equally talented competitors.
But wait, "Ready? Set. Go!"? Is this phrase always correct?
Should you always be "set" before you "go?"
The answer is: not always. Let's take a step back to understand
this using an example.
Running a Business vs. Running a Race
Running a business (or running your life) is not entirely like
running a race. In a business, you don't usually have to
practice for months for something that lasts a mere 10 seconds.
Business plans are more likely to have a longer shelf life
(well, at least longer than 10 seconds, I'd hope!). Nor do
businesses stand on a racing line with their competitors and
wait for formal instructions to begin.
On the other hand, you do have to plan and practice in order to
achieve success, whether you're a business builder or a
sprinter. How else are these situations similar?
Well, for one, competition is fierce. A business has other
companies in its market. A person has other people in their
expertise vying for the same opportunities and jobs. A runner
has other athletes aiming for the gold.
Next, there is a common thread in terms of goals. A business
wants to be the market leader and innovator. A person aims for
the top in the class, to become the most knowledgeable or have a
reputation for excellence. A runner's ultimate goal is the gold.
In essence, all three aim for the top spot; to be number one in
Lastly, motivation, inspiration and hard work are all
requirements to succeed. I can't imagine a runner winning the
race if he's never up early in the morning practicing. Nor will
a business become number one in its industry if it doesn't have
a clear vision or the necessary people to succeed. And a person
will not become successful and well-respected if he only works
during a full moon between the hours of 2 and 3 am. Okay, well
maybe not that drastic, but you get my drift!
The most relevant distinction between businesses and athletes is
the idea of false starts. Starting before the official whistle
isn't allowed during races. In contrast, false starts are a
common practice in the business world. No business starts at the
same place, at the same time as their competitors. Rather,
businesses are often light years ahead in terms of new products,
services, or other innovative business practices. Then, of
course, the competition will analyze the success and attempt to
Well, what if false starts were allowed during races? Would it
be fair? Instead, what if there was a tradeoff: the runner can
start 10 metres ahead of his competition but the catch is that
he would only be allowed minimal training and planning
beforehand. So, chances are, the sprinter won't be in as great
of shape as his opponents. Is it fair now?
While we're not going to get into the ethical or legal issues
with false starts, it raises an interesting point. What if,
instead of: "Ready? Set. Go!", we had:
Ready? Go! Tweak!
What does this mean? What does it entail? And how will you be
Let's understand the "Ready? Go! Tweak." concept a little more.
In almost all cases, it's better to start a race ahead of your
opponents. When you're ahead, you have the breathing room to
make mistakes and improve, while still remaining in the lead.
But how do you actually start ahead of the pack? It's simple:
Go before you're set.
That's the whole concept of "Ready? Go! Tweak." summed up in a
few words. It's the idea of going live with the best
point-in-time information and also with the understanding of the
potential risk of launching with reduced planning. You don't
want to hang onto a project for too long since stalling could be
far too damaging in the long run.
While we're not debating whether planning is necessary in order
to succeed (there's no doubt it is), we need to discuss the
extent of the planning required to succeed.
"I don't think about risks much. I just do what I want to do. If
you gotta go, you gotta go." --Lillian Carter
Is it necessary to plan out each and every stage of the project
in extreme detail in order for you to succeed? If so, than this
concept isn't quite what you're looking for. If you're able to
adopt the "do it first, tweak it later" philosophy, then "Ready?
Go! Tweak." is right for you. And you just might find yourself
with a huge advantage later on. You would have planned less
during the initial stages of the project, but overall, you were
able to get instantaneous feedback and finalize your plans along
the way; a process I call: Spot Planning.
Spot Planning Spot Planning is the process of creating plans and
making decisions concurrent to launch. It's on-the-spot decision
making as opposed to pre-planning. It gives you the flexibility
of deciding on-the-go without stalling or disrupting progress.
The key to this is the effectiveness of the spot planners.
Spot planners are able to:
* Understand the time implications of a project * Make quick and
accurate decisions * Thrive in ambiguous situations * Deal with
many stages of a project at once (planning, implementation,
tweaking, promotion, etc.)
Do any of those characteristics describe you? I hope so!
Tweaking Performance One Shot at a Time
Let's go through another example to reinforce the idea behind
tweaking. Imagine that you're brand new to archery and you're
taken out to a controlled shooting environment. The instructor
will give you a prize if you can hit the target. Then you're
given two options:
Option 1: You have 1 arrow, so you must aim carefully before you
shoot. Once you've shot that single arrow, it's gone! Boom! Bye,
bye! So in order to succeed, you'll probably want to take as
much time as you'd like to make sure the shot goes as planned.
Option 2: You have 100 arrows, but you're not allowed to aim as
carefully before you shoot. Instead, you're only allowed to
shoot and tweak your performance after every shot. In essence,
you'll be continually improving with each arrow fired. By the
100th shot, you'll be more accustomed to the angles,
environment, wind and other factors. Odds are better that you'll
hit the target with 100 chances than with only one.
"Each trial brings progression, and only through progression
will success be born." --Ronnie Nijmeh
In reality, you may not be given 100 chances to succeed, but the
key point is that there's an opportunity for trial and error in
most business and personal experiences. So use these
The importance of tweaking your idea, product, or service each
time around can't be stressed enough. Did it work the first time
around? If so, you know what may work in the future. If not,
find out what needs improving, tweak it, then try again.
You can't always be perfect. You can't always write the perfect
report, have the perfect product, or simply "be" perfect. You're
prone to make mistakes and have flaws (whether major or minor).
But that shouldn't stop you! Acknowledge that you can't always
be perfect and use the effort to learn, grow and adapt.
"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how
close they were to success when they gave up." --Thomas A. Edison
If you prolong the planning stage in search of "that perfect
ending" or "that perfect feature" you won't be progressing on to
new levels of success. And if only you're willing to let go, you
may realize just how close you are to success! Parents, doesn't
this sound familiar (perhaps when your child moves away for the
It should be noted that not all initiatives should utilize the
"Ready? Go! Tweak." technique. I wouldn't say that a car company
could "tweak" their faulty brakes after it's been released to
the public. Nor would you want to experiment in an already
established and competitive market.
So ask yourself:
In your business, project or venture, is it possible to begin
after the minimum amount of planning? What are the negative
effects of doing so? Will you be slingshot into the lead if you
use the "Ready? Go! Tweak." and "Spot Planning" techniques? Are
you able to afford making mistakes or deferring decisions until
after the launch date? Are you working with a smaller, more
If you're in a position to launch with the minimal amount of
planning and are willing to tinker along the way, you just might
find yourself in first place when all is said and done. Can you